Probably the most anticipated game of the regular NBA season is the unofficial rematch between the reigning champions Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. Although the upcoming game on Christmas will be heavily laced with finals references, the Cavaliers can expect to face a very different team this weekend.
Sure, Golden State will still be led by Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, but the Warriors this year now have a very powerful addition to their roster in the form of Kevin Durant.
Even though the Warriors will be facing Cleveland with the same starters, the presence of Durant changes everything. For one, Golden State's plays are now more diverse compared to last year especially since they have more shooters on the floor.
But aside from Durant, the Cavaliers will also be playing against an improved Thompson. Although he was already a superstar last year, he was able to reach new heights this season, such as the 60 points that he made against the Indiana Pacers.
In other words, the Warriors may not be the same team that blew a 3-1 lead in the finals against the Cavaliers. After all, they're not being dubbed as the super-team for nothing.
However, this doesn't mean that the Cavaliers will be entering the Christmas game as the underdogs. Aside from being the defending champions, they're still carrying the same core roster that led the team to the finals and eventually the title.
With the core group intact, this means their plays are still solid. Also, just like the Warriors, some of the Cavaliers' starters have gotten better this year compared to last season, according to the New York Times.
For instance, Kevin Love is now averaging six more points than last year. Kyrie Irving also displayed massive improvement his performance and is now being lauded as one of the best guards in the league. And then there's LeBron James, who has emerged stronger now than before.
These clearly show that both teams have changed this season. But, fans can surely expect to see the same intensity during the finals in the upcoming Christmas game.
The upcoming game between the Cavaliers and Warriors will be held at the Quicken Loans Arena. As noted by ESPN Media Zone, the game will be broadcasted by various networks including ESPN and ABC.